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Blamowska, Marta (2012): Role of the Hep1 chaperone in the de novo folding and the prevention of aggregation of the mitochondrial Hsp70 chaperone Ssc1. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy



Molecular chaperones of the Hsp70 class are essential for a number of cellular processes. The yeast mitochondrial Hsp70 chaperone Ssc1 plays an indispensable role for the mitochondrial biogenesis. As an essential component of the import motor of the TIM23 transolcase, Ssc1 drives the ATP-dependent translocation of proteins into the mitochondrial matrix. Moreover, it mediates the de novo folding and the assembly of several proteins in the mitochondrial matrix and prevents the formation of protein aggregates. Surprisingly, Ssc1 itself has a propensity to self-aggregate. Thus, it requires a helper protein, the chaperone Hep1 that prevents Ssc1 aggregation and maintains its structure and function. The mechanism of the protective function of Hep1 on Ssc1, however, is not understood. In the present study, the structural determinants of Ssc1 that make it prone to aggregation and the structural requirements of Ssc1 for its interaction with Hep1 were analysed and provided insights into the mechanism of prevention of Ssc1 aggregation by Hep1. The aggregation studies demonstrate that a variant of Ssc1 consisting of the ATPase domain and the subsequent interdomain linker aggregates in absence of Hep1. In contrast, the PBD and the ATPase domain alone are not prone to aggregation. Moreover, the interaction studies reveal that the aggregation-prone region seems to be the smallest entity within Ssc1 required for the interaction with Hep1. Taken together, the native Ssc1 adopts an aggregation-prone conformation, in which the ATPase domain with the interdomain linker has the propensity to aggregate. Hep1 binds to this aggregation-prone region and thereby counteracts the aggregation process and keeps the native Ssc1 in a functional and active state. Although Hsp70 chaperones are important for the biogenesis of a multitude of proteins, little is known about the biogenesis of these chaperones themselves. The present study reports on the analysis of the folding process of the mitochondrial Hsp70 chaperone Ssc1. In organello, in vivo and in vitro assays were established and then employed to study the de novo folding of Ssc1. Upon import into mitochondria, Ssc1 folds rapidly with the ATPase domain and the PBD adopting their structures independently of each other. Notably, the ATPase domain requires the presence of the interdomain linker for its folding, whereas the PBD folds without the linker. Moreover, in the absence of Hep1, the ATPase domain with the interdomain linker displays a severe folding defect, which indicates a role of Hep1 in the folding process of Ssc1. Apart from Hep1, none of the general mitochondrial chaperone systems seem to be important for the folding of Ssc1. Furthermore, the folding process of Ssc1 was reconstituted in vitro and the main steps of the folding pathway of Ssc1 were characterised. Hep1 and ATP/ADP are required and sufficient for the folding of Ssc1 into the native, catalytically active form. In an early step of folding, Hep1 interacts with the folding intermediate of Ssc1. This interaction induces conformational changes which allow binding of ATP/ADP. The binding of a nucleotide triggers Hep1 release and further folding of the intermediate into a native Ssc1. The present study provides the first direct evidence for the requirement of Hep1 for the folding of the Ssc1 chaperone. Thus, it demonstrates for the first time that the de novo folding of an Hsp70 chaperone depends on a specialized proteinaceous factor. In conclusion, Hep1 fulfils a dual chaperone function in the cell. It mediates the de novo folding of Ssc1 and maintains folded Ssc1 in a functional state during the ATPase cycle. Therefore, the Hep1 chaperone plays a crucial role for the protein biogenesis and homeostasis in mitochondria.